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May 29, 2003

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Moscow

Nuclear treaty finalized

Russia's landmark nuclear arms deal with the United States cleared its final hurdle Wednesday, winning overwhelming support from the upper house of parliament and opening the way for big cuts in both nations' nuclear arsenals.

The Federation Council ratified the accord, known as the Treaty of Moscow, in a 140-5 vote with two abstentions in a meeting held behind closed doors.

The vote was considered a mere formality, coming after the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, ratified the treaty earlier this month and the U.S. Senate approved it in March, but its timing -- days ahead of the Russia-U.S. presidential summit -- was significant.

President Vladimir Putin and President Bush are expected to exchange ratification documents in St. Petersburg on Sunday, bringing the accord into immediate force.

The accord calls on Russia and the United States to cut their strategic nuclear arsenals by about two-thirds, to 1,700 to 2,200 warheads, by 2012.

New York

Army reservist convicted for refusing anthrax vaccine

A military panel at Fort Drum on Wednesday found an Army reservist guilty of disobeying an order for refusing to take the anthrax vaccine and tossed her out of the Army.

The panel of eight officers -- only two of whom said during questioning that they have taken the six-shot regimen -- took 40 minutes to return a guilty verdict against Pvt. Kamila Iwanowska and two hours to determine her penalty: a bad conduct discharge.

Iwanowska, 26, admitted in a court "stipulation of fact" that she had refused to follow the verbal and written orders of her commanding officers.

Army prosecutor Capt. Leslie Rowley said the statement was all the proof the panel needed, and neither side called witnesses.

Iwanowska, who is Polish and became an American citizen last year, told her superiors she considered the shot medically dangerous to children she might have in the future, saying the vaccine's long-term effects are unknown.

As a Roman Catholic, she also cited religious reasons.

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